Biden is caught in a no-win situation on Israel: from the politburo

Welcome to the online version of From the political officean evening newsletter that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the NBC News Politics team on the campaign trail, the White House and on Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, national politics reporter Jonathan Allen explains how Joe Biden is pleasing no one with his latest decision regarding Israel. Additionally, leading national political journalists Henry J. Gomez and Matt Dixon report a potential domino effect that could harm the prospects of two potential running mates for Donald Trump. And we recap day 14 of Trump’s criminal trial in New York.

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Biden is caught in a no-win situation with Israel

By Jonathan Allen

President Joe Biden is trying to thread the thread of Israel’s war against Hamas, but his threat to stop sending some weapons to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has left some in Washington wondering if he has lost that thread.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza because of these bombs and other ways that they attack population centers,” Biden said in a CNN interview on Wednesday. “I made it clear that if they went to Rafah – they haven’t done it yet – if they went to Rafah, I would not provide them with the weapons that were used historically to deal with Rafah, to take care of cities – which deal with this problem.

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In fact, Israel is carrying out limited military operations in Rafah, the Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have gathered since the start of the war, following the Hamas terrorist attack on the Jewish state on October 7. Biden said Israel had not yet crossed a “red line” by entering population centers.

But at the same time that the Biden administration is delaying official certification that U.S. weapons are not being used to undermine humanitarian efforts to protect civilians, the president is drawing a new rhetorical line in the sand.

Some members of his own party view this as counterproductive to Biden’s policies and policy goals. He wants the war to end as quickly as possible, with the release of Israeli and American hostages held by Hamas, and he wants pro-Palestinian activists to stop hammering him at home as he seeks re-election.

“The problem is the message they’re sending can’t accomplish both of those things,” said one Democratic lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to bluntly criticize Biden’s position. “Because now, if you want Hamas to release the hostages and see the United States withdraw, that takes the pressure off Hamas. »

This lawmaker said it risks prolonging the war, rather than reaching a conclusion, which in turn threatens to extend Biden’s domestic political dilemma.

“If the hostages are not released, then the war will continue, with or without American missiles,” the lawmaker said.

Republicans were quick to condemn Biden’s position. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who recently worked with the Biden White House to pass an aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, told Politico he hopes Biden’s remarks constituted a “privileged moment”. And in an interview with North Carolina’s Spectrum News 1, former President Donald Trump said he “wouldn’t do what Biden did.”

“He just abandoned Israel,” Trump said.

But progressives welcomed what they see as a turn in the right direction.

“Biden took the position that 37 Democrats took in voting no on offensive weapons against Gaza that could be used for an invasion of Rafah,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, co-chairman of Biden’s campaign. “This is now the mainstream Democratic position, and the recent vote on offensive weapons against Israel will be seen as similar to that of the Iraq War. »

Last month, Democrats voted 173-37 for a standalone measure providing aid to Israel, including for offensive weapons, before it was folded into the broader foreign military assistance package that Biden signed into law. . If Biden embraces the progressive viewpoint, he does so at the potential cost of running with about 20 percent of his party’s contingent in the House and against the vast majority of Republican officials inside and outside of Congress.

The question for Biden as he tries to manage Israel’s war from afar is whether he will gain more support at home by cozying up to the pro-Palestinian progressives who have given him fits since the start of the war.

Trump trial, day 14: Stormy Daniels argues with former president’s lawyer during testimony

By Adam Reiss, Jillian Frankel, Gary Grumbach and Dareh Gregorian

Adult film star Stormy Daniels returned to the stand in Trump’s criminal trial Thursday, fending off under cross-examination her lawyer’s attempts to discredit her in sometimes bizarre and uncomfortable exchanges.

Trump lawyer Susan Necheles questioned Daniels about the $130,000 nondisclosure agreement she signed with then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen near the close of the 2016 election, and attempted to poke holes in her now-sworn statements about the sexual relationship she says she had with Trump, which he denies.

Necheles asked her how many pornographic films she had written and directed and replied: “You have a lot of experience creating bogus stories about sex.”

“Wow. That’s not how I would put it,” Daniels responded. “Sex in movies is very real, just like what happened to me in that room” with Trump. She added: “Wow. If this story was fake, I would have written it to be much better.”

Madeleine Westerhout, Trump’s former White House executive assistant, was called as a witness later in the day.

Read more about the Trump trial here →

💲The million dollar question: Will Trump speak? He previously said he would “absolutely” testify, but has since softened his comments. Read more →

By Henry J. Gomez and Matt Dixon

Two of Trump’s potential running mates face serious political complications: the Republican governors who will choose their successors.

If Trump chooses Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis would be able to choose his replacement — perhaps immediately if Rubio resigns and moves to avoid the constitutional blockage of having both candidates on the list residing in the same State. . If Sen. JD Vance of Ohio becomes vice president, Gov. Mike DeWine would choose a new senator.

Both governors have recent, conflicting histories with Trump, raising doubts about whether the people they appoint would meet the often rigid right-wing standards of his MAGA movement. And while the succession dynamic won’t necessarily hurt Rubio or Vance’s chances of being selected, it is the subject of speculative conversations in both states.

DeSantis and Trump are emerging from a bitter clash for the GOP presidential nomination. While there are signs of detente, enough trust issues remain that the idea of ​​handing DeSantis the Senate appointment power is one that Trump world approaches with caution.

In Ohio, Trump campaigned vigorously against the DeWine-backed candidate, state Sen. Matt Dolan, in a recent Republican Senate primary, calling DeWine a crusty avatar of the establishment and a RINO. Many believe Dolan, who lost the primary to Trump-backed Bernie Moreno, would be on DeWine’s shortlist to succeed Vance.

Read more about Trump’s veepstakes here →

🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🏟️ Like father, like son: Barron Trump, the former president’s youngest son, is entering the political arena by serving as one of Florida’s delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer. Read more →
  • Surprise Surprise: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he would place no limits on a woman’s right to access abortion, even late in pregnancy — a stance that prompted a surprise reaction from his running mate. Read more →
  • ⌚ Timing is essential: Ahead of Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary next week, the influential group EMILY’s List has launched a new ad campaign on behalf of Angela Alsobrooks as she takes on self-funder David Trone. Is it too late or just on time? Read more →
  • 🗓️ What is Haley doing? Nikki Haley plans to meet with major donors to her presidential campaign next week, the Wall Street Journal reports, but she has no “immediate plans” to support Trump. Read more →
  • 🎬 In the wings: Charlie Spies was ousted as the Republican National Committee’s top lawyer following sustained lobbying from MAGA influencers. Read more →
  • 🗳️ Electoral battle: Ohio lawmakers are at odds over efforts to ensure Biden appears on the ballot in the state this fall, increasing the likelihood of legal action to resolve the issue. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have any comments (like or dislike), please email us at [email protected]

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